School district looks at rise in COVID cases

HURON — Dealing with the increase of COVID-19 cases is taking a toll on all school districts right now, including Huron, Supt. Kraig Stienhoff said during the Huron School Board meeting Monday night.

“As we’re sitting here we have 31 active cases in students and staff,” he said. “This is the highest number this year. A lot of sick kids and a lot of sick staff.”

Stienhoff said he planned to meet with administrators today to talk about what steps they will take if too many staff members are unable to work.

“I can’t deny that is a challenge that is facing us right now,” he said. “What will happen if we have so many staff out that we can’t staff our buildings adequately.”

The district has a threshold of 3 percent of students and staff with COVID-19 that would trigger a change in how schools are operating, which would be 100 active cases, he said.

Tim VanBerkum brought two pieces of legislation, HB1005 and HB1006, to the board’s attention.

“The legislative session begins tomorrow and there’s not a lot of legislation filed yet, but there are a couple I want to bring to the board’s attention,” he said. “HB1005 is the bathroom bill coming back again, and it also relates to sleeping rooms for overnight sports trips. It gives a lot of options to sue someone if you feel your rights have been violated. HB1006 has to do with girls’ sports. It requires participation to be based on a person’s biological sex, not what you say you are. This also allows for lawsuits if someone feels their rights have been violated. It also allows the school district to sue the Activities Association.

“My opinion, these are solutions looking for problems, and maybe a few lawyers could get rich off these,” VanBerkum said.

Stienhoff shared results of a survey the district sent to 66 different people in the community, including administrators and staff members, asking about the strengths and challenges facing the district, and what new opportunities could be explored.

“I did learn a lot, to sum up, the community is very pleased with our school district,” he said. “Hats off to all of you. I will take this information to guide us as a School Board on strategic visions and initiatives.”

The CTE expansion is on pace and they are exploring new courses that could be offered, including precision agriculture, law enforcement and health sciences. “We also want to collaborate with HRMC for new health sciences classes,” Stienhoff said. “The more options we give kids to find their passions, the more success we will have. My hope is by 2024-25 we could be in year one of the new CTE Academy.”

Congratulations were given to varsity teams and fine arts groups that achieved a combined grade point average of 3.0 or higher and are eligible to receive the SDHSAA Academic Achievement Award. The groups include girls’ tennis, girls’ cross country, boys’ cross country, All-State Chorus and Orchestra, football team and cheerleaders, competitive cheer, competitive dance, volleyball team, oral interpretation, boys’ soccer and girls’ soccer.

A thank you was extended to Morris Hunt for the $10,000 donation to the Huron Community Scholarship Fund, Thomas Swanson of Sioux Falls for donating many coats to Buchanan K-1 Center, and Hope Lutheran and First Presbyterian churches for their donation of winter hats and gloves to the Buchanan K-1 Center.

In new business, the preliminary 2022-23 school calendar would have classes beginning on Aug. 18, which would be 10 days prior to the State Fair. This option will provide an extended holiday break for Christmas, from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3.

Dates to remember:
• Jan. 17: Martin Luther King holiday, no school
• Jan. 28: Earliest date to begin circulating or file nomination petitions for the School Board election
• Feb. 21: President’s Day, no school
• Feb. 25: 5 p.m. deadline for filing nominating petitions for School Board election
• April 12: City and School Board election

In other business, the board:
• Approved advertising for bids for two yellow school buses
• Approved advertising bids for two executive coach buses
• Approved advertisement agreement renewal for Huron Arena
• Approved updates to current and proposed policies


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